Today, they would be getting married and Mojolaoluwa couldn’t wait to recite her vows. She was grateful that the church had granted them permission to write their own vows. She wanted to tell him exactly what kind of wife she was going to be to him. She thought all that old school “for better, for worse” talk was very vague and didn’t really make sense. There were people who would never be poor whether they wanted to or not, just as there were people who got married for the money. These days nobody walked out on a marriage just because their partner was sick. These days, people even stuck together through HIV. Besides, people got married for different reasons, so it made more sense to have the couple write out their vows so that they could tailor their vows to the exact kind of marriage they wanted to build, and then recite these vows in the presence of God and loved ones, so everyone would know exactly what to hold them accountable for. Mojolaoluwa didn’t care about anything else, she just wanted to be able to tell Korede the kind of wife she would be to him.

“Iyawo,” Tolu called her from the door. “I’ve called you five times now. What are you thinking about? I was asking if I should hold your phone or put it in your purse. Then, you have like twenty messages and this is your only chance to respond before we leave for church.”

“Is it fifteen minutes already?” Mojolaoluwa asked her.

She had asked everyone to give her fifteen minutes to be alone. She had felt a little overwhelmed, with her five bridesmaids, her little bride, three flower girls, her mother and her aunt in her room clucking over her dress and her hair and her bouquet and her shoes. Whether her veil should cover her face now or if they should wait till they got to the church. All of a sudden it was all too much, and she had let them know. She looked at the small leather book in her hands, where her vows were written. Then she smiled at Tolu, who was nodding.

“Your mum is telling her sister what a strange child you have always been,” Tolu told her. “You better let me tell them to come back in, before she starts to panic.”

“Oya, please tell them to come,” she said, laughing. “I think we should leave my phone in your purse. I’m not in the mood to respond to messages. That photographer has sapped my energy, wish I could get a cup of coffee.” She knew her mother wouldn’t hear of it. She had told them yesterday, Korede and her that they must fast today. She was fasting too, and so was her aunty Tumi.

“I didn’t wait 30 years to see you married for one enemy to scatter your marriage,” her mother had said. “All their plans will scatter in Jesus name. God has given us the victory, He revealed it to me already.”

“Tolu wait,” she called in a hurry. Tolu was on her way out of the room. “Before they come, there’s one Sprite in the fridge. I want a few gulps. I need help to get through the day, just some sugar in my system.”

They shared a smile as she took a few gulps of Sprite, she was careful not to smear her makeup, even though her makeup artist would be around the whole day. That was after all what she had been paid for. Tolu and Mojolaoluwa had been best friends since Secondary School, and even then there were those who thought she was weird, but Tolu understood. When most people thought she was antisocial with mind issues, Tolu knew that she was a great girl with a great sense of humour, a very smart mouth and a very interesting journal, if very intense sometimes. They were four girls who did everything together, but she and Tolu were closer than the rest. They had attended the same university, and were roommates throughout their years in university. Today, Tolu was her chief bridesmaid and Sprite drinking accomplice, but as always Mojolaoluwa knew her secrets were safe with Tolu.

It was a racket again, as everyone came back into her room. Her mother insisted on praying together before they left for the church. They formed an awkward circle and held hands, some of the girls sat on the bed.

“In the mighty matchless name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed,” her mother began. Mojolaoluwa sneaked a glance at Tolu, who knew the glance would come so she was smiling. The drama had begun. Today, for several reasons, would be truly unforgettable.

“The couple will now recite their vows,” the pastor was saying. He was a small man with a bald head that was shinier this morning than it ever was. Mojolaoluwa hoped this meant that God had sent more anointing down for this marriage. She wondered if she was the only one who noticed the pastor’s shiny head, and willed herself to be serious. It was time now. They got up and faced each other, flanked by her chief bridesmaid and his best man. Korede gave her a smile that said, “Showtime!” He was amused at this whole reading of vows, he thought it was too complicated. He would rather have them stick to the ancient “for better for worse” act. But she kept insisting until he finally agreed, but only because he saw that it meant a lot to her.

“Sister Mojolaoluwa will now read her vows to Brother Korede.” At his words, Tolu passed her the small leather book. She paused for a minute, her heart thumping gently inside its cage. She opened the book and began to read.

“Dearest Korede, in writing these vows I have traveled back in time to eleven months ago, to that Thursday evening when we met. You all conversation and smiles, and me all hungry and tight-lipped. Tight-lipped because the last person I wanted to talk with was a man, least of all a charming one. Because our choices form our life experiences, it fills me with despair to think that I almost chose not to give you my number, because it means that I would have lost the opportunity to love you and to share life with you. It means I would have never known the beauty that is your heart.”

She paused again, to look deeply into his eyes. He was serious now, no longer smiling. Watching her.

“Today, I vow to love you with my head. To include you in every decision I ever make, and to make your interests of the highest priority in those decisions. I vow to love you with my heart. To feel everything for you and with you, no matter what it is. I vow to love you with my body, uninhibited and for all time. I vow to walk with you for the rest of my life, no matter where life’s journey takes us. From now on, we’ll walk together. Always. I make these vows today, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”

There. She had done it. Korede was smiling again, a small serious smile. Behind her someone was sniffing from the front pews. She would bet it was her mother.

“Hallelujah,” the pastor said. He was beaming from ear to ear, no doubt the intensity of the moment was lost on him. Or maybe it was just that he was amused by the whole modernity of reciting one’s own vows. “Brother Korede will now recite his vows.”

“Mojola mi, I’m not a man of many words and today I apologize, because I cannot write you an epistle, even though I know it would make you happy. But what I lack in words, I will make up for in action, not just today, but always.

This is why today as you become mine – my wife, my friend and my lover, I vow to do everything to make you a happy woman. I vow, that you will always be my Mojola. Mine, now and always. Finally, I vow to love you forever. I make this vow in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Shortly after, they were pronounced man and wife and it was over. They were whisked off to the church garden for pictures, after which they would take the twenty minute ride to the reception venue. It was a beautiful day, unforgettable. Mojolaoluwa’s father had passed away five years ago, so when it came time for the bride’s dance with her father, Mojolaoluwa danced with Olu instead. He was several inches taller than she was, and all through the dance she laid her head on his chest and wept silently for their father and the void his absence created that no one else could fill.

Korede watched Mojolaoluwa dance with her brother. He could see that she was crying, and he hated that she had to go through this. They had talked about it before the wedding. He thought they should take the bride’s dance with her father completely out of the programme since her father was no more. He knew her father’s death was still a sore spot for her, and he wanted to save her the pain. But she thought it was a way to remember him, even though he was too dead to be present. She also thought it would make her mother happy, and so he gave in to her as he did most times. And today, as he watched her on the dance floor, her head resting on her brother’s chest, it took all his will to contain himself and not walk down there and hold her. She was his, she belonged to him now, and the thought filled him with a possessive rush of adrenaline. He would make her feel like a princess, he thought. He would give her everything she ever wanted. It wasn’t just because he loved her, even though he really did love her. It was also because he owed it to her, and he wouldn’t fail in his responsibility to his bride. He knew he did a messy job of writing those vows, but not everyone was a writer. That’s why he had wanted them to do it the old way. But that was in the past now, they were married now.

It was nothing short of amazing what getting married did to a man. He knew it wasn’t just him because a couple of the guys who were married had described the feeling before. This rushing wave of affection, very fierce and very deep. It wasn’t an exaggeration to think of it as an emotional volcanic eruption. He felt it now, this deep, almost animal protectiveness for Mo that defied conventional logic. He loved her, but this feeling was deeper than any love. Marriage truly was a mystery, this joining of two souls to become one. He wasn’t a deeply religious person, but this thing proved there was a God who truly ruled in the affairs of mortals. He glanced at his watch. They had a plane to catch in exactly six hours. They had to start getting ready to leave here. Mojolaoluwa had chosen Seychelles for their honeymoon destination. From then on, he would be father to Mojolaoluwa and their children. His mother called him her father already, because his father wasn’t in their lives, and her father had died when she was a toddler. Father. It was a big role to play, but he would play it well or kill himself trying. The dance was over, and Mojolaoluwa was walking back to him, a bittersweet smile on her face. He felt it again, that squeeze in his heart that produced the enzymes that made him fiercely protective of her.

“You my wife, are the most beautiful woman I ever saw,” he told her when she had sat down. “I cannot wait to have you to myself. These people are seriously cramping my style.”  It worked. He loved the way she brightened up, beaming at him.

“These people are only here because you invited them oga, please remember. You’re going to have me to yourself in a few hours, start telling me what you plan to do with me.”

“Well, I have very creative ideas for wiping the colour off your lips, no offence to your face beater.”

“Is that all?”

“There’s more, but I’d have to whisper it in your ear.”

Mojolaoluwa promptly sidled closer to him, turning her ear to his mouth.

Korede’s mother watched them, her heart bursting with happiness. This was what love looked like, and she was happy that her only son had found love. There were at least three hundred people in the hall, but they could be the only ones here from the way they were so wrapped up in each other. This was the joy of every mother, to see their child deliriously happy. Mojolaoluwa’s mother was the deeply religious one, and ever since they had gotten to know each other, they had become friends, with Mojola’s mother dragging her to church at every opportunity. She had so many reasons to be angry with God, but Mojolaoluwa’s mother would not hear of it. God was not to blame, she always said. If anything, He was the reason things were not as bad as they could be. She had dragged her to the mountain to pray for the children’s wedding. They were on the mountain for one week in the cold, praying. Mama Mo had said it was a small price to pay for the children’s happy home, and she agreed. Nothing was too big a sacrifice for Kore. Looking at them now, it seemed their prayers had been answered, and they would never know anything that made for sadness in a home.

To be continued…wink!

Written by Urigi